Gallery - The Village

Wilson Dam School c.1942

This short (20min) film is a fascinating look into how the education of the children at Wilson Dam School, circa 1942.  “What does it all mean, this learning by doing?  It means the rapid, lasting learning that can only come with intense interest.  It means the self-discipline that comes with independence of action.  It means the healthy bodies that come with good food, rest and exercise.  It means a sense of social responsibility that comes with interest in the other fellow and respect for property.  This is education in democracy.”


Wilson Dam School (1942) An elementary-school program at Wilson Dam School, Sheffield, Alabama, provided a wide range of activities for children at each age level, including art, music, theater and gardening.  The total program made provision for the mental, social, and physical development of the children.  Many of the activities are charmingly shown in the film.  The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Alabama State Department of Education collaborated in this production. 


The school served children of TVA employees from Village One, Two, and Three. TVA created the school as part of the progressive school movement. The (Wilson Dam School) helped shape the modern day school curriculum.  Prior to these experiments with education, public school learning was very rigid and mostly memorization from a desk. This is where the hands-on learning, field trips, etc. came from. The Wilson Dam School is an extremely important historical site that has received little recognition or study. Jean-Paul Sartre visited the school, as did delegations from other countries who wanted to study the program. 

Village Vignettes